Students in Tennessee who are undocumented and their families were disappointed that the Tennessee legislature failed to pass the tuition equality bill. This bill was a no-cost bill that would allow these Tennessee students and residents to go to college without having to pay out of state tuition.
The LWVOR and its partners are still working on plans to educate more people on the issues of immigration. The LWVOR is working with the Allies for Knoxville's Immigrant Neighbors (AKIN) on an education piece this fall. We do not know what the Tennessee legislature will do this upcoming session on tuition equality. Our upcoming activities will include organizing our messaging to help combat anti immigrant/refugee rhetoric, training and developing materials for speakers, and reaching out to local organizations on immigration issues.
The League of Women Voters believes that policy should promote reunification of immediate families; meet the economic, business and employment needs of the United States; be responsive to those facing political persecution or humanitarian crises; and provide for student visas. The policy should ensure fair treatment under the law for all persons. In transition to a reformed system, the League supports provision for unauthorized immigrants already in the country to earn legal status.
Using this position, the League lobbied in support of the DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) during the 111th Congress (January 3, 2009 - January 3, 2011). This Act would provide a path to citizenship for young immigrants who complete a college degree or serve in the military, thereby enabling them to be fully productive part of American society. The legislation passed the House, but lacked enough votes to overcome a filibuster in the Senate.
The complete position on immigration can be found in the LWVUS Impact on Issues 2014-2016.
This priority states that public policy should ensure that immigrants and refugees are treated fairly and that the LWVTN supports policy changes that allow Tennessee immigrant youth fair access to higher education.
The League of Women Voters of Oak Ridge and the League of Women Voters of Tennessee will be promoting the passage of the Tuition Equality bill (HB 675) in the Tennessee House of Representatives during the second session of the 114th session.
This bill has passed all Senate committees and the Senate floor. It has also passed all House subcommittees and committees. The vote on the floor of the House was 49 (in favor) to 47 (not in favor) but lacked a constitutional vote of 50 ayes.
This bill will:
Parents of undocumented students currently pay all local, county, state, and federal taxes as documented residents.
Lunch with the League
The LWVOR planned a two-session Lunch with the League in Oak Ridge.
The first session, held on September 15, 2015, was a presentation by Dr. DeAnn Pendry of the University of Tennessee who is a bi-lingual expert in immigration. Dr. Pendry gave a history of immigration in the United States.
The second session, held on October 20, 2015, was a presentation by Mr. Eben Cathey, advocacy co-ordinator for the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition in Nashville. Mr. Cathey talked specifically about the tuition equality bill-HB 675. Mr. Cesar Bautisa, the youth co-ordinator for TIRRC also attended.
Strategy Meeting with AKIN and TIRRC
This meeting was held at St. James Episcopal Church in Knoxville on October 20, 2015.
The meeting was widely attended by educators from Knoxville area high schools and colleges, undocumented Tennessee students and their
parents, people of various faith communities from the region, AKIN, TIRRC, and the LWVOR.
Members of the League of Women Voters of Oak Ridge submitted an article to the Knoxville News-Sentinel supporting tuition equality. The article was published on January 16, 2016.